The US has dismissed as “transparently false” Russia’s evidence-free claim that Ukraine is preparing to use a “dirty bomb” on its own territory as part of Vladimir Putin’s escalation of the war.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmitri Kuleba on Sunday that “the world will see through any attempt by Russia to use this claim as an excuse for escalation” and vowed to continue supporting Kiev as long as necessary.
Earlier on Sunday, Kuleba denounced Moscow’s claims as “absurd” and “dangerous”, adding: “Russians often accuse others of what they themselves are planning.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky quickly reacted to Moscow’s claims, calling for a unified international response. “If Russia calls and says that Ukraine is allegedly preparing something, it means one thing: Russia has already prepared all this,” Zelensky said in a video address on social networks. “I believe that now the world should react as strongly as possible.”
Zelensky said that everyone “understands who is the source of everything dirty that can be imagined in this war. It was Russia that blackmailed with the radiation disaster at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant [nuclear power plant].”
On Sunday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke to his British, French and Turkish counterparts and claimed at all three meetings that Ukraine could use a “dirty bomb”, a conventional weapon containing radioactive material. Shoigu also spoke with Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin, but Moscow did not mention the dirty bomb allegations in its statement summarizing the call.
The Russian minister did not provide any evidence for this claim, as he warned of “possible provocations” by Kiev.
There is no evidence that Ukraine, which gave up its nuclear weapons in the 1990s, has radioactive material in its military arsenal.
The Ministry of Defense of Great Britain stated in a statement: “Shoigu stated that Ukraine was planning actions that were facilitated by Western countries, including Great Britain, in order to escalate the conflict in Ukraine.” The defense secretary rejected these claims and warned against using such allegations as an excuse for further escalation.
The Institute for the Study of War said a “false flag” operation by Russia was unlikely, dismissing Shoigu’s calls as a saber move designed to intimidate Ukraine’s western allies and divide the NATO alliance.
Russia faces ongoing military setbacks, including probably the loss of western Kherson until the end of the year, it is stated.